“President Trump offered Kim a lift home on Air Force One,” Matthew Pottinger, the top Asia expert on Trump’s National Security Council, told the BBC.
What made the situation even stranger was the fact that talks between the United States and North Korea had broken down when the two leaders reached an impasse on Pyongyang’s nuclear program. Yet as he was leaving, Trump offered Kim a free ride on the world’s most famous ― and most secure ― aircraft.
“The president knew that Kim had arrived on a multi-day train ride through China into Hanoi and the president said: ‘I can get you home in two hours if you want,’” Pottinger said. “Kim declined.”
According to the BBC, Trump’s aides were “stunned” by the offer.
Trump began his term by calling Kim “Little Rocket Man.” In August 2017, Trump threatened “fire and fury” on North Korea. Just one month later, during a speech at the United Nations, he vowed to “totally destroy” the nation.
Kim fired back with a threat of his own.
“I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged dotard with fire,” Kim said in a statement.
But Trump quickly changed his tune after the two met.
“And then we fell in love, OK?” Trump said in 2018. “No really. He wrote me beautiful letters and they’re great letters. We fell in love.”
The two leaders ultimately met in person three times, including one instance where Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea after he crossed over the border during a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone.